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Quiet Time 20/08/2012

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
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Twin Cities weather report: It’s another gorgeous day (unofficially—i.e., in the backyard—55F at 8:00 a.m., officially 73F at noon with 29% humidity and 39F dewpoint and a cloudless sky. The weather has been fantastic for the past two weeks, with cool nights (good for sleeping), blue-sky days (okay, we’ve had fair-weather clouds, even a couple of showers), and very little wind.

I’ve been outside the city several times in this period, and I’ve noted the crops looking lush. We’ve escaped the devastating drought, so there’s an eerie atmosphere of normalcy abroad, even though, from what I read, extreme southeastern, southwestern and northwestern Minnesota are experiencing at least moderate drought. It seems the many resorts—you know, 10,000 lakes and all that—are doing well, and city, suburban and country folk are keeping their lawns mowed and watered. (For years, I’ve wondered why country folk, especially, would want to spend hours sitting on their riding mowers to keep their acreages of grass cut short, and how much fossil fuel all told gets burned up in the process.)

After a couple of weeks of occasionally hand-pulling tufts of long grass in the backyard and tossing it in the new-compost end of the bin, I gave in this morning when I heard my next-door neighbor out there with his mower. He had a grim look on his face, doing what his wife—recovering from a back operation—usually does, and likes doing. So, much as I detest the incessant noise from the yards that surround ours, I dashed out and asked to borrow the mower when he was finished. So I got-‘er-done. At least there are some full-length tufts of grass that I couldn’t get to if I wanted to.

One thing that’s wonderful about our yard this year is the color and variety of what’s growing. We had the big elm tree taken down in early April—I figured it was likely to drop another limb or two this year, as it did last year (on two different calm days in the same week, when it was fully leafed out with the full load of sap moving in mid-June); one limb smashed a section of gutter, requiring an arduous day of ladder work with a friend (bless him!) a couple of months later, and the other very nearly took down the utility lines. Where the base of the elm was, three varieties of squash and one of pumpkin have blanketed what would otherwise be barren ground; plus two different types of sunflowers are growing bushy and tall, and the supposed seeds of cosmos have grown up to produce intensely orange flowers that harmonize with the various colors of the zinnias nearby. The bees know very well that our yard is a good place to come for nectar, and monarch flutter-by’s and even a hummingbird have come around.

But what of the Mars-Saturn effect? I didn’t have as much time available to scan for weather stories as I would have wanted, but what I saw were incidents without widespread effects. And that’s just about what I expected. Apparently, New York City had some flash flooding, but with so much impervious surface it wouldn’t take much precipitation to leave deep water in the streets.

What research time I had I spent on Typhoon Saomai—which is the Vietnamese name for Venus—which hit mainland China in August 2006, and the Oder River flood that affected the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany in July 1997. More on those later.

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